- WSL / Poullenot/Aquashot

This article was initially published on The Inertia

"If you surf Pipeline on a regular basis, it's not if," says Brendan Shea, a North Shore Lifeguard. "It's when. You're going to get hurt."

Shea, who is a part of one of the most elite lifeguarding teams on Earth, knows what he's talking about. As beautiful as it is, the North Shore is a serious place with serious waves that can seriously hurt you. It's not just Pipeline, either. It's Haleiwa, it's Sunset, it's Waimea and more. The waves are powerful there and the reef is sharp. There's a chance to get the wave of your life, sure, but the floggings that come in the attempt are bad. Countless people have been hurt or killed there, but the North Shore Lifeguards stand watch over it all. That's why Yeti created the short film you see above, Heavy Water Guardians.

"Lifeguards in Hawaii are like professors in a college," Hawaiian water safety expert Archie Kalepa told The Inertia back in December of 2017. "They sit on that tower day in and day out. They see the tide change. They see the currents move. That comes from years of knowledge. For the normal person, they see the beauty. The lifeguards, they see the beast. Sometimes the beast is sleeping, but the beast is there, and they know that."

The work the North Shore Lifeguards do is relatively thankless. They save lives on a regular basis. They keep people out of trouble and they save the ones who don't listen. In the winter, when the tourists are swarming like locusts and the waves get huge, the number of people on the beach that simply don't understand that they shouldn't go in the water is staggering. But the Lifeguards take it all in stride, focus their gaze on the lineup, and prepare to do whatever it is they need to do to keep the people safe.

"Everyone who walks on our beach, everyone who swims in our ocean becomes part of our family," said ocean safety pioneer Brian Keaulana. "We're not divided by land. We're connected by water."

This article was initially published on The Inertia

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